Social Services: Community Agencies

In bid to crush union Homes First workers face Feb. 1 lockout

January 31, 2013

(TORONTO)  In a brazen bid to destroy OPSEU Local 540 representing workers who assist the homeless in finding permanent residency, management at Homes First has signaled they will lock out the employees on Feb. 1.

“This is one of the ugliest labour showdowns I’ve witnessed in some time,” said OPSEU president Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “And the responsibility for this rests squarely on the shoulders of managers and the board of directors who define ‘victory’ as nothing less than crushing a legitimate bargaining unit like Local 540.

Employees at Homes First turned down management’s final contract offer earlier this week in a vote supervised by the Ontario Labour Relations Board. In October members of Local 540 voted 100 per cent to support strike action.

Despite receiving more than $6 million in annual funding from the City of Toronto labour relations at Homes First have been toxic for years. Grievances about employee mistreatment and human rights violations have been regularly filed and, most recently, management hired security guards at four locations in a defiant act of intimidation. Outside replacement workers have been hired even though they only duplicate the work of regular staff.

“It’s time city hall stepped in and told the board of directors and management at Homes First that they get serious about its financial accountability and bargaining a contract deal,” said Kathleen Demareski, a negotiator for the union. “We are disappointed that the eight city councilors who have a Home First office in their ward haven’t been more vocal about the poisonous employment conditions and management’s refusal to bargain in good faith. We encourage them to visit, unannounced, these locations.”

The union has filed a bargaining in bad faith application to the labour relations board which will be heard Feb. 14.

The two sides will meet again Feb. 1 with the assistance of a mediator. If no deal can be struck almost 70 employees could be locked out at 8:30 p.m. the same day.

More information:

Kathleen Demareski
OPSEU Negotiator
Tel: 416-443-8888 ext 2484

Ontario Public Service Employees Union, 100 Lesmill Rd. Toronto, ON M3B 3P8  (416) 443-8888

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